Keynote: Arise, and build
The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build.”
The clarion call of Nehemiah, the repairer of the walls of Jerusalem, was “Arise and build.” It was a call coming from deep within his own soul, as he was deeply impacted by the news that Jerusalem was a broken city. Not even the returning exiles had made a difference. The walls of the city remained in ruins and its gates remained derelict, destroyed by fire.
This scene of devastation is similar to many situations we face today. At a personal level, you may find much in need of repair – relationships, attitudes, and devotional life, for example. On a wider scale, we may also think about our own community and our nation. Certainly, the current confusion in the nation and the clamouring for make-shift solutions are signs of a broken society.
The Grenfell disaster of recent days has left our community feeling numb with pain, brokenness and devastation. But the Lord Jesus is the healer of broken hearts and the restorer of broken lives. Nehemiah’s life, in many ways, points to the restoration ministry of Christ to his people. There can be no devastation, personal or communal that is beyond the scope of his restorative power.
We only need to grasp the means he uses to work his miracle of restoration. First, there has to be an open recognition that things are a mess. The exiles, who had returned to Jerusalem after the 70-year long captivity in Babylon, seemed content to live in a broken city. Many lived in nothing more than a pile of rubble. It took the word of the Lord coming through Nehemiah for them to wake up to the situation and realise there was something they could do about it.
This was followed by a remarkable response by the community at large. They made tremendous progress because, “the people had a mind to work” (Nehemiah 4:6). This spirit of participation, of everyone co-operating, is always God’s way in times of restoration. It is how lives are put back together, how marriages and families are restored and how communities are rebuilt.
God is calling us to be part of his restoration programme. He is calling us to stand together and for each one of us to do our part. We can be the very people God uses to bring our community back to life.
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